Personalization is both an ocean of possibilities and a persistently frustrating term.

For most companies it’s a line item on the budget that has been there for years and has been consistently deferred or has produced unclear benefits. Yet the promise of personalization persists as a lofty pursuit for so many digitally inclined businesses.

As often defined, “personalization” can sound like a moonshot idea (“the right content at the right time to the right individual”) that takes so long to complete, that by the time it is “done” it may no longer be relevant.

The companies that approach personalization with this mentality are trying to swim in an ocean filled with various technologies, customer data, applications, and endless possibilities to assist them in “doing personalization.” But the ocean is unswimmable. It’s too deep and it is full of high waves and rip tides.

It’s time for businesses to quit trying to "do personalization" and think about how to "create more personal experiences."

Stop worrying about the ocean of personalization and learn to love the beach of personal experience design. But what, exactly, does that mean?

A personal experience is any experience that listens to the user implicitly or explicitly and uses that insight to adapt content and experiences for greater relevancy or personal utility.

Rather than starting with the data or technology like so many companies do when pursuing personalization, start by identifying problems of relevance or personal utility for your customers, then experiment and optimize to solve those problems.

This approach values listening, user control, and data transparency to move the experience from one based on guessing to one based on knowing. And, since it is focused on solving customer problems, it is more likely to yield a measurable return. That’s a win for your customers and your business.

About the Authors

Matty Wishnow

Managing Director – Experience Design and Optimization, Accenture Interactive​

Ryan Garner

Managing Director – Experience Design and Optimization, Accenture Interactive


Good design is evidence-based design
The physics of ROI: From projects to problems
Experimentation is how you do things

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